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Extract from the interview given by the Director of Design Bureau ARMAS of JSC SSTC to the Internet portal KORABEL.RU

Design Bureau ARMAS:  We do everything to ensure the growth of market share of Russian shipboard valves and fittings

During its history, Design Bureau ARMAS, the leading design bureau in shipbuilding and ship repair industry in Russia, has developed more than 25 thousand standard sizes of shipboard valves and fittings. Today, these items can be found on-board any Russian ship.


Valves and fittings developed by DB Armas 

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Complex of valve-and-fitting production facilities at DB Armas     

Are there any new developments in the segment of shipboard valves and fittings in your design bureau? Which new products are the most interesting?

– Design Bureau Armas (DB Armas) constantly works on developing and perfecting new products. During the last three years, we have been actively developing control valves and fittings. Essentially, items of this segment are the most complicated and sophisticated among shipboard valves and fittings. They are not products of simply 'close–open' type of operation, they presume certain control laws, flow characteristics, and so on. In this segment, there are items we can be proud of. Axial valves, which have been developed by DB Armas and which are intended for controlling the flow of operating fluids in shipboard and oil-and-gas pipeline systems, have received a very high appraisal. By now, these valves have entered the implementation phase.

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Control valve

These products were created by the traditional method. A large amount of design and experimental works have been completed, and several standard sizes of valves and fittings for various operating fluids and for sufficiently high pressure levels have been developed. However, we have noticed that customers in the market often require a different approach. Everybody needs the ordered products to be supplied in a flash…

We already have the experience of similar work with one of our customers. Our design bureau completed the development and delivered the safety valves in half a year. It was quite an interesting experience. We believe that development of end-to-end digital technologies, including the use of digital twins, can considerably shorten the time limits and reduce the expenses for new products development and production.

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Safety valves

Another important field of our activities is production of pneumatic distribution valves with both manual and electromagnetic control. Products of this type are widely used on naval ships. At present, based on the 'naval' distribution valves, we have developed and prepared for tests a series of pneumatic distribution valves for commercial and special-purpose vessels, including icebreakers.

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Pneumatic distribution valves

We have achieved great success in the area of manufacturing pipeline valves and fittings for high-pressure air (HPA) systems and also low-noise valves and fittings. On our own, we have designed and manufactured HPA test benches and acoustic test benches, and we have been actively using them in our work.

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Pressure-reducing device for HPA systems

– How actively are electric-hydraulic items used in engineering and manufacturing of valves and fittings?

– This is an interesting area. Valve actuators of combined type are not novelties, but they are not as widely available in the market as single-mode actuators. This is caused by the fact that apart from their advantage (increased reliability) they also have an essential deficiency, which is their considerable dimensions and weight.

– What are other trends of valves and fittings development?

– These days, pipeline valves and fittings develop in several directions. Design as a field of knowledge makes its way forward, and new ideas to be implemented appear in order to improve weight and dimension parameters, hydraulic features, and operational properties.

The next area is materials. New materials come into being: they are non-traditional for engineering and manufacturing of valves and fittings but would be very interesting in application, for example, composite materials. We are making progress in this area as well, and we have already obtained rather interesting research and development results.

Another important development direction is cooperation with contractors with regard to component parts, such as springs, sealing and packing elements, and components of systems responsible for alarming and warning, diagnostics, and control. We are developing this area actively, because requirements for parameters of such items are becoming ever stricter. So far, we are not considering to import component parts, because today 100% of materials and components used in our valves and fittings are produced in Russia. And we do not intend to bring this level lower.

Production technologies also develop and evolve. Let’s, for example, take a look at 3D printing. Additive technologies can be just an ideal solution for single-piece or small-scale production. The item’s production period compensates everything.

– Do you use 3D printing already?

– Sure. We have a positive experience of valve producing by direct laser deposition method. We have carried out hydraulic and endurance tests, studied physical-mechanical properties of materials, and all of them confirm complete compliance of the product with the specified requirements. Basically, this product is totally ready for manufacture and serial production, but some issues remain unresolved. The product, as well as its materials and manufacturing technology, must be certified by the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping. Today major difficulties exist in regard to normative documents. Thus, if we speak about direct laser deposition, neither the powders nor the curing technology have been certified by the Register so far. However, everybody is very actively working on it.

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Valve components manufactured by using additive technologies

– They have been working on it for years…

– A step forward is needed; this will provide flexibility to manufacturers, and it will essentially shorten the production period. The traditional production period for the delivery of cast work-pieces is around 4–6 months, forgoing of large-size items also takes several months. If we take into account machining time, we will have a relatively long manufacturing cycle. Additive technologies essentially reduce the time periods for preparation of the production facilities and for manufacturing of the products. We are strong supporters of implementing 3D printing into manufacture of valves and fittings.

– How much more advanced have the parameters of valves and fittings become over the last years?

– Development of technique and equipment always leads to the growth of requirements and parameters. If we consider the operating fluids, today DB Armas is the only developer of valves and fittings with strict requirements for air. As far as high-pressure hydraulic systems are concerned, imported analogous products are available, and some Russian companies are engaged in research and development in the field. However, nobody but us has worked in the field of compressed air under pressure 40 MPa. This is one of our major area of expertise. We have been intensively developing such equipment that can operate under the impact of severe environmental conditions, for example, in the case of deep-diving submersibles. We take an active part in this.

– Are you planning to manufacture equipment for deep-sea mining of mineral resources (crusts, nodules, sulphides)?

– We are very interested in deep-sea themes. We are conducting studies in this area, but understanding the real situation, we do not hurry to proclaim that we are ready to develop everything. I know of companies, which commenced equipment production, including samples for mining complexes, but then faced the lack of necessary domestic materials, components, and test equipment. We undertake obligations and give promises only when we are confident of the positive result. I believe that such an approach towards work has proved its value. We are engaged in deep-sea themes and subjects, but we do not proclaim yet that we will be ready to supply everything as early as tomorrow.

– What is the situation with tests and trials in the segment of civil valves and fittings?

– In spite of the fact that I separated the engineering and manufacturing of valves and fittings into naval and civil segments, all test equipment must be certified in accordance with both naval and civil standards. This requirement is not observed all the time. I cannot speak on behalf of other manufacturers, but I get an impression that not all of them use the test equipment with technical and metrological characteristics that have been proved by certificates.

Based on our vast experience, we know exactly which parameters must be examined and which tests must be performed, as well as the scope and duration of such studies and tests. The research-and-test complex of DB Armas has been accredited in the 'Oboronsertifika' system of voluntary certification, and today our design bureau possesses the widest competency in the area of tests of shipboard pipeline valves and fittings. The complex consists of more than ten certified test benches, including the unique ones with no analogues or counterparts in the Russian Federation.

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Bay for control over flow-meter test benches of DB Armas

However, for some reason, the scope of tests carried out by various manufacturers and suppliers differ, and do not always comply with the scope of tests which must be completed in order to confirm the quality of the products.

– The President has assigned the task to manufacture a larger number of civil products …

 – That is true. We have a development strategy in this area. We regard shipboard valves and fittings of civil purposes as a promising segment. We have serious plans and intentions for entering the markets of nuclear and oil-and-gas products and for exporting our valves and fittings abroad. I believe that our products can be of great interest for customers in these markets.